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Monday, 11 June 2007
The World's Most Interesting and Diverse Law Faculty -- Almost Breathtaking Bookmark and Share
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From the website of Harvard Law School, under the heading "Faculty":

"Harvard Law School is home to the world's most intellectually interesting and diverse law faculty. The eighty-one tenured and tenure-track professors of the Law School offer an almost breathtaking array of courses, seminars, and reading groups, which cover every major substantive area of legal study and approach the law from a wide variety of methodological perspectives. Each year, professors from other parts of Harvard University and other law schools around the world, as well as practicing lawyers from law firms, government, and public interest organizations, contribute their specialized skills and knowledge to this richest curriculum in the nation.

Beyond the classroom, Harvard Law professors are at the cutting edge of legal scholarship and practice. Their scholarship -- which runs the gamut from legal history to economic analysis of law, from consideration of the American Constitution to study of the international legal system -- offers exciting new perspectives on legal issues and contributes to solving legal problems. Faculty members enrich their scholarship, as well as their teaching, by engaging in varied "real-world" activities, often arguing cases before the world's highest courts, assisting in developing legal systems for new nations, or providing testimony or other commentary on emerging legal and policy issues. "

Karl Kraus would have left it at that.

I won't. I will let those words speak for themselves, but believe  in this case it worthwhile to winnow and select a few that deserve to be held up for special inspection:  

"the world's most interesting and  diverse law school faculty"

"eighty-one" faculty members who "offer an almost breathtaking array of courses, seminars, and reading groups..."

this "almost breathtaking array of courses, seminars and reading groups" manage to "cover every major substantive area of legal study"

further, this ""almost breathtaking array of courses, seminars and reading groups"  also manage to "approach the law from a wide variety of methodological perspectives"

law professors from around the world are supplemented, or complemented, by practitioners, also from around the world, "who contribute their specialized skills and knowledge to this richest curriculum in the nation."

"Harvard Law professors are at the cutting edge of legal scholarship and practice."

The scholarship of these professors on the "cutting edge," by the way, "offers exciting new perspectives on legal issues and contributes to solving legal problems."

"Faculty members enrich their scholarship, as well as their teaching, by engaging in varied "real-world" activities, often arguing cases before the world's highest courts, assisting in developing legal systems for new nations, or providing testimony or other commentary on emerging legal and policy issues. "

This means that many are so busy taking outside cases that the students are for some -- perhaps many -- an afterthought, to be treated just well enough so that the student evaluations are good, but that so often has little to do with sober pedagogy, and more with a mountebank's pleasing patter. what was it the antritrust lawyer Philip Areeda used to get? Was it $500 an hour? And what about James Casner -- what did he get for his Annual Reading of the Wills, for the Duponts or others of that Fortune 500 ilk? How much was it that Lawrence Tribe wanted to bill the state of Massachusetts for in the Grendel's Den case, and was turned down by an indignant and furious Commonwealth? Was it $400,000, in 1970 dollars?  And what did what he wanted to charge for that case,  in which so many students did so much of the work for virtually nothing,  amount to on an hourly basis?

Those "real-world" activities do make it difficult for some faculty members to be quite the attentive and solicitous teachers one would wish them to be, and it certainly must interfere with the research, that "in-depth" and "extensive" research,  and in some cases even much of the writing, of their scholarship that so "enriches" the experience of their students. But that's okay, because Harvard Law School students are there not merely to learn, but also, at bargain-basement prices, to conduct that research, and even much of the writing, and then, in order to save both the law students and their faculty employers from embarrasssment, should their failure to command  the rudiments of English grammar, syntax, and spelling, be made known, there are still, or were a while back, educated Cambridge ladies, naturally older, who could be counted on to make the prose presentable. 

"[A]ssisting in developing legal systems for new nations..."

New tenured hire Noah "After Jihad" Feldman comes to mind. he and that Shari'a-conforming "constitution" which, pace Bush, does not protect Christians, but did help the likes of Noah Feldman to get where he is today. Indeed, of all those associated with the fiaco in Iraq, perhaps no American made out as well, in his own striving, than Noah "What We Owe the Iraqis" Feldman.

"providing testimony or other commentary on emerging legal and policy issues..."

This means the proud appearance of an Op/Ed article in the Times or The Wall Street Journal.

Try  to imagine what Oliver Wendell Holmes, what Roscoe Pound, what Mark DeWolfe Howe, what courtly Arthur Sutherland, what Erwin Griswold, what Paul Freund, would have made. or those of sense and good taste elsewhee, such asJacques Barzun, would jave made of that description proudly placed on the proud website, as the page devoted to the fauclty, of Harvard Law School.

Do you think anyone is embarrassed? Any shame? Any chagrin?

Or does the self-satisfied language of the Development Office fit the case?

Perhaps it does. Perhaps that is all there is.

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Posted on 06/11/2007 10:30 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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